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How To Throw An Awesome 80s Theme Party

Updated on June 16, 2011

I Love The 80s!

Like, OMIGOD, so I got like this totally RADICAL idea on how relive the nostalgia of my childhood: by throwing an awesome 80s theme party!

Seriously, the 80s are in. That gnarly decade that brought us Pac-Man, neon shirts, John Hughes, big hair and Rubik's Cubes is now trendy, thanks mainly to the people like me who are in their mid-30s and are looking to go back to their younger days.

Let's face it, though -- whether you're anxious to take a trip down Memory Lane or simply go retro, the 80s are fun. There were bright colors, big jewelry, cool music ... and just excess, excess everywhere! No wonder why 80s theme parties are so popular!

So if you're looking for something fun to do for a birthday celebration or a bachelorette party, or any other occasion, consider throwing an 80s party. How to plan a party is easy: All you need are some colorful costumes, a little hairspray and a little imagination. Here are my tips -- straight from a genuine child of the 80s -- on how to throw the ultimate 80s theme party!

Ultimate 80s Tribute!

80s Decorations

As with any good party, you've first got to make sure that you have proper decorations. The 80s were all about colors, especially neon, so go for the brightest decorations you can find. Star with neon pink or yellow cups and plates. In the 80s, geometric designs were very popular, as well, so you might consider buying some neon construction paper and then cutting out different shapes -- circles, pentagons, triangles, etc. -- to hang, kind of like modern art. It will give your place a very 80s vibe.

Another great idea is to hang posters from 80s movies or of 80s idols from TV and movies. You can include ones of teen idols, such as Kirk Cameron, Corey Feldman, Corey Haim, Scott Baio, Michael Jackson, Kevin Bacon and Matthew Broderick, for starters. Many can be found online, but if you still have some up in an attic somewhere, great -- the more authentic, the better!

You might also want to put some 80s toys out for even more nostalgia, so if you have an old Cabbage Patch Kids doll, vintage Barbie from the 80s, original Care Bears or Strawberry Shortcake figurines, get them out and display them! Try to include items that will make your guests laugh and get all misty-eyed as they exclaim, "Oh, yeah, I remember THAT -- I used to have one of those at my house!" The idea of having this type of party is to really work that 80s nostalgia and make the party-goers feel as if they really are back in that era. Heck, even go and hang a huge poster of Ronald Reagan on the wall, if you want!

I Want My MTV -- Memorable 80s Videos

80s Music And Costumes

To really get into the spirit of the 80s, you, of course, should encourage your guests to dress like they're back in the decade. A very easy 80s look is simply to wear a lot of denim -- a jeans skirt and matching jeans jacket was a trendy look back then, especially if you wore a neon T-shirt underneath and finished off the outfit with a pair of Keds.

However, if you want to go for a more complex 80s appearance, then you need to bring out the accessories: lots of Swatch watches, lots of bracelets, hair scrunchies, wide belts, dangly earrings (a big trend in the 80s was to simply wear ONE earring), layered neon socks, big cloth hair bows, suspenders (for the guys), fingerless gloves. Whether you were preppy, stylish or a rocker, almost everyone layered on stuff -- only the 80s version of bling was more like lace and plastic.

You also need big hair. The go-to hairspray of the decade was Aquanet, this sticky stuff that would hold every ultra-teased hair in place, whether it was spiked or permed. Meanwhile, the guys had mullets, where their hair was short in the front and long in the back.

If guests come without a costume, though, you can find inexpensive 80s gear, such as neon jelly bracelets and mullet wigs. Make sure you have some on hand to give out so that everyone can dress properly for your 80s party! 

Meantime, you'll need to have some great 80s music blaring. Thankfully, you can find almost any 80s song on iTunes and nearly every 80s video on YouTube. Go for popular hits by artists, such as Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, Madonna, Hall and Oates; include some hair bands, such as Poison and Bon Jovi. Also include some new wave groups, like Depeche Mode and The Cure. Try to come up with an eclectic mix of 80s music so that everyone's musical tastes are met and all of your guests can enjoy the nostalgia.

Themes For 80s TV Shows

80s Fun!

Aside from the 80s costumes, music and décor, you want to treat your guests to some 80s fun! For starters, treat them to some decade-appropriate party foods: Corn nuts (in honor of Heathers), pizza (in honor of Fast Times At Ridgemont High), Reese's Pieces (in honor of E.T.), Strawberry Shortcake (in honor of the doll), Cap'n Crunch sandwiches (in honor of The Breakfast Club). Anything that you can think of that works is game. You can even do something like make Pac-Man cookies, which are pretty easy: simply make sugar cookies and then frost them with yellow in a Pac-Man shape.

Meawhile, some popular movies from the decade, such as The Breakfast Club, The Goonies, Heathers or Nightmare On Elm Street. Or you can run classic TV shows, like The Golden Girls, Punky Brewster, Family Ties. Dallas, Dynasty or Falcon Crest.

If you really want to bring the nostalgia, offer up some 80s fun and games: have a Pac-Man or Pong tournament; play the special version of 80s Trivial Pursuit; have a Rubik's Cube race. Many companies, like Atari are now making "classic" versions of the old video games, so it's pretty easy to get a hold of 80s arcade games like Space Invaders -- that will actually hook up to your modern television.

The great thing about the 80s was that it was such an over-the-top time that anything goes! Use your imagination and do whatever you can to make your party as wild and as fun as possible. So don't be afraid to party like it's 1989 -- your guests will love you for it!

John Hughes Tribute


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    • invita profile image

      invita 7 years ago from Tampa, FL

      We had an 80's party for our 10th wedding anniversary, which was awesome! Thanks for the great hub.

    • Corin profile image

      Corin 7 years ago

      Great hub: it reminds me of my childhood and of all the fun I had when I was a teenager. Everything about the 80s is here. Thanks.